Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Galway launch of Peadar O'Donnell Forum

International figures call for freedom for five Cubans imprisoned in the United States for 15 years

John Le Carré, Emma Thompson, Lord Rowan Williams, Noam Chomsky, Günter Grass and Dame Vivienne Westwood  have joined other international personalities in support of Voices for the Five, an international coalition calling for justice and freedom for five Cubans imprisoned in the US.

Voices for the Five, launched today, brings together supporters from the arts, media, legal, NGO and campaigning organisations calling for justice and freedom for the Miami Five – five Cubans arrested in 1998 while attempting to prevent terrorist attacks against the Cuban people by groups within the US. Human rights and legal groups have raised questions about the fairness of the trial and Amnesty International has condemned the treatment of the Five as “contrary both to the standards for the humane treatment of prisoners and to a state’s obligation to protect family life”.

On 7-8 March 2014, a major two day Commission of Inquiry into the Case of the Miami Five will convene a panel of internationally renowned commissioners drawn from legal, human rights, political and academic backgrounds and organisations at the Law Society in London as part of the Voices for the Five initiative.

The Commission will hear testimony from René González Sehwerert, the first and only member of the Five to have been released after completing his 15 year sentence. He will be joined by family members, victims of terrorism against Cuba, lawyers, politicians and campaigners from Cuba and across the world.

A full list of endorsers and video messages from international supporters of the Miami Five can be found at The website calls on people across the globe to sign up online with messages, photos and videos to add their support to the hundreds of international figures already involved. 

Michael Mansfield QC, says
“I am delighted to endorse the Inquiry into the case of the Miami Five to be held in London next March. It will serve as an expression of truth and conscience by the people for the people. Politicians cannot be trusted to undertake such an exercise.”

Dave Prentis, General Secretary of the million-strong public sector union UNISON says
“UNISON has been part of the movement for 15 years to get justice for the Cuban Five who were wrongly imprisoned all those years ago. We are also part of the International Commission of Inquiry which will be looking into this case in the spring of next year. We will not rest until we win full support for the Cuban Five.”

Irmita González, eldest daughter of René González Sehwerert says
“I was only 14 when my dad got arrested and I am 29 now. I have been growing up in the middle of this battle. It’s too long. It’s time for it to end and for my uncles to come back to their families, their life and their country, because they are people who have fought against the harm that has been done to Cuba for many years. They should be free and we need them back.”

Friday, October 25, 2013

Teachers and students unite in Spain against education 'reform'

Students and teachers across Spain have left classrooms to protest against ruinous cuts and attacks on education.

The walkout was called by The Platform for State Education, an alliance of trade unions, student unions and parents' federation Ceapa.

Thousands went on to stage mass rallies across Spain.

Unions CCOO, FETE-UGT and STES-I said 83 per cent of education workers had responded to the strike call, saying the sector was "paralysed due to the repeated attacks by the ministry."

They said the strike was to "defend a model that guarantees equality of opportunity which is being severely attacked by continued cuts to education."

Education Minister Jose Ignacio Wert unveiled a raft of reforms that threaten to turn back the clock to dictator Francisco Franco's era.

The so-called Improvement of Education Quality Bill undoes a number of decisions made during the transition to democracy, such as the ending of attacks on the Catalan language.

Unions have also attacked the elitist elements of the law, including making students choose between academic and technical courses.

The Platform said the cuts and reforms would not solve any problems in education and would result in less social cohesion.

"A society that makes education a commodity ... is a sick society that is bound to collective social suicide."

Students got the ball rolling on Tuesday, with many blockading their schools in protest at the changes and high university tuition fees.

The higher fees have coincided with the government making it harder for students to get grants.

Evo Morales calls for the decolonization of the media

Evo Morales calls for the decolonization of the media
BUENOS AIRES.— Bolivian President Evo Morales stated in Argentina that it is necessary to decolonize the way in which the media is managed in order to go more deeply into the process of transformations underway in the region, and confirmed that in Bolivia there is no more coercion or conditions set by certain entrepreneurs in the sector to defend policies.

Evo Morales at the University of La Plata, Argentina.
According to La Razón daily, Morales spoke about the media in a master lecture in the University of La Plata’s Journalism and Social Communication Faculty, where he received an honorary professorship.
There he noted that it is almost a norm for the private media to respond to the interests of the transnationals and the entrepreneurs.
"Just working together jointly, I am convinced that we can liberate ourselves from media which are pro-domination, generally in private hands," he stated.
Morales confirmed that freedom of expression is guaranteed in Bolivia and spoke of the need for change in the media in order to guarantee the process of change.
The Bolivian President’s lecture was in the context of an open series on Toward a Social Communication for the Emancipation of Latin America, organized by the Faculty.
Morales also received honorary degrees from the universities of Lanús and San Martín.

Morales expressed his wish for the prompt recuperation of Argentine President Cristina Fernández, who is recovering from surgery due to a vascular cerebral lesion. "I just wanted to greet her, give her much strength for a speedy recovery, that is my great wish," said Morales.

PCP - Demonstrations in defence of workers and the right to protest

Great marches in defence of April, against exploitation and impoverishment

On this past October 19, hundreds of thousands of workers demonstrated, in the cities of Lisbon and Oporto and in the autonomous regions of the Azores and Madeira, against exploitation and impoverishment, in answer to the call by the General Confederation of Portuguese Workers – CGTP-IN.

A huge wave of protest and indignation filled the streets, in a powerful affirmation of dignity, courage and determination in defence of the rights of the workers and the population and demanding the resignation of the PSD/CDS government, the defeat of the Pact of Aggression – the “memorandum” signed by PS, PSD and CDS with the EU, IMF and ECB – and of the right-wing policy and for the implementation of a policy to serve the workers, the people and the homeland.

A rousing affirmation of resistance and struggle against the illegitimate attempt to curtail fundamental freedoms with the government’s provocation that clearly showed its fully antidemocratic face, by placing all sorts of hurdles to the march on the 25th April Bridge over the Tagus River in Lisbon. The workers imposed the exercise of their democratic rights and a new and important defeat on the government by crossing the 25th April Bridge on buses, while at the same time in the north of the country thousands of people marched on the Infante Bridge that links the cities of Oporto and Vila Nova de Gaia.

A day of struggle which constitutes a great show of unity and combativity in defence of April, the Portuguese Constitution and national sovereignty.

Mobilising for resistance and struggle, CGTP-IN has already announced a new gathering in front of the Assembly of the Republic, on November 1st, the day of the first vote on the 2014 State Budget, which announces further brutal cuts in wages and pensions, while benefiting the big economic and financial groups, submissively obeying the EU and the IMF, who impose a painful stranglehold on the workers, the people and the country.

The Human Rights Industry

Amnesty International and the Human Rights Industry


When I studied law at Columbia in the early 1990s, I had the fortune of studying under Louis Henkin, probably the world’s most famous human rights theoretician.   Upon his passing in 2010, Elisa Massimino at Human Rights First stated in Professor Henkin’s New York Times obituary that he “literally and figuratively wrote the book on human rights” and that “[i]t is no exaggeration to say that no American was more instrumental in the development of human rights law than Lou.”
Professor Henkin, rest his soul, while a human rights legend, was not always good on the question of war and peace.  I know this from my own experience when I had a vigorous debate with him during and continuing after class about the jailing of anti-war protestors, including Eugene V. Debs, during World War I.  In short, Professor Henkin, agreeing with Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, believed that these protestors were properly jailed because their activities, though peaceful, constituted a “clear and present danger” to the security of the nation during war time.  I strongly disagreed.

That Professor Henkin  would side with the state against these war protestors is indicative of the entire problem with the field of human rights which is at best neutral or indifferent to war, if not supportive of it as an instrument of defending human rights.   This, of course, is a huge blind spot.   In the case of World War I, for example, had the protestors been successful in stopping the war, untold millions would have been saved from the murderous cruelty of a conflict for which, to this day, few can adequately even explain the reasons.   And yet, this does not seem to present a moral dilemma for today’s human rights advocates.  (I will note, on the plus side, that Professor Henkin did become increasingly uneasy with the Vietnam War as that conflict unfolded, and specifically with the President’s increasing usurpation of Congress’s war authority).

In the end, it was not from Professor Henkin, but from other, dissident intellectuals who I learned the most about human rights and international law.  The list of these intellectuals, none of whom actually practice human rights in their day job, includes Noam Chomsky, Edward S. Herman, Jean Bricmont and Diana Johnstone.  And of course, I have read a lot of what they have to say on this subject on these very pages of CounterPunch.

And, what all of these individuals have emphasized time and time again is that international law, as first codified in the aftermath of World War II in such instruments as the UN Charter and the Nuremberg Charter, was created for the primary purpose of preserving and maintaining peace by outlawing aggressive war.   And, why is this so?  Because the nations which had just gone through the most destructive war in human history, with its attendant crimes of genocide and the holocaust, realized full well that those crimes were made possible by the paramount crime of war itself.  As Jean Bricmont, then, in his wonderful book Humanitarian Imperialism, explains, the first crime for which the Nazis “were condemned at Nuremberg was initiating a war of aggression, which, according to the 1945 Nuremberg Charter, ‘is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes is that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.’”

In other words, the logic of the very founders of international law, including international human rights law, was that, to preserve human rights, the primary task of nations is to ensure peace and to prevent war which inevitably leads to the massive violation of human rights.  As Noam Chomsky has noted for years, quite notably in his 1971 Yale Law Review article entitled, “The Rule of Force in International Affairs,” 80 Yale L.J. 1456, one of the very first substantive norms established by the UN Charter is prohibition against aggressive war.   Such a norm is contained, as Chomsky relates, in Article 2(4) which provides that all UN members “shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force . . . .”   And, contrary to the position of the new humanitarian interventionists, Article 2(7) of the Charter specifically states that “[nothing in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state . . . .”

Sadly, as Chomsky noted even back in 1971, these norms, the paramount ones of the entire UN system, have sadly been read out of international law.   And, they have been read out by, among others, such chief human rights groups as Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW).   As Jean Bricmont, citing international law scholar Michael Mandel, explains in Humanitarian Imperialism, while AI and HRW urged all “’beligerents’” (without distinguishing between the attackers and the attacked) at the outset of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq to respect the rules of war, neither group said a word about the illegality of the war itself.  As Bricmont quite correctly stated, “[t]hese organizations are in the position of those who recommend that rapists use condoms,” ignoring the fact that once the intervention they failed to oppose  “takes place on a large scale, human rights and the Geneva Conventions are massively violated.”

This brings us to the present time.   Just last week, Amnesty International issued a long statement in opposition to an article I penned for Counterpunch on “Libya and the West’s Human Rights Hypocricy.”   AI, in its counter-blog, entitled, “A Critic Gets it Wrong on Amnesty International and Libya” (see,, AI claims that I was wrong in stating that it had supported  the NATO intervention in Libya.  AI, affirming the critiques of Bricmont and Mandel, claims in this blog, that “Amnesty International generally takes no position on the use of armed force or on military interventions in armed conflict, other than to demand that all parties respect international human rights and humanitarian law.”  AI then goes on to try to clarify that, in advance of the NATO intervention in Libya, AI, in a February 23, 2011, release, merely called on the Security Council to take immediate measures against Libya and Gaddafi, including [but not limited to] freezing the assets of Gaddafi and his senior military advisers, and investigating the possibility of a referral to the International Criminal Court.

In its blog contra my article, AI claims that it called for such action based upon Gaddafi’s  verbal “threat to ‘cleanse Libya house by house’” to end the resistance.  While this is true, this is not the whole truth.   Thus, in AI’s Feburary 23, 2011 release, it also based this call upon “persistent reports of mercenaries being brought in from African countries by the Libyan leader to violently suppress the protests against him.”   And, as we learned from our own Patrick Cockburn in anIndependent article from June 24, 2011, entitled, “Amnesty questions claim that Gaddafi ordered rape as a weapon of war,” Amnesty ended up debunking the reports (though well after NATO’s attack against Libya had begun)  that Gaddafi was bringing in foreign mercenaries to fight.

As Cockburn, citing Donatella Rovera, senior crisis response adviser for Amnesty International, explains:
“Rebels have repeatedly charged that mercenary troops from Central and West Africa have been used against them. The Amnesty investigation found there was no evidence for this. “Those shown to journalists as foreign mercenaries were later quietly released,” says Ms Rovera. “Most were sub-Saharan migrants working in Libya without documents.”
In other words, AI, on Feburary 23, 2011, was calling for Security Council action against Libya based upon reports about foreign mercenaries which it would later conclude were false, and upon verbal threats Gaddafi had made  — very weak bases indeed for Security Council action.

And what about the calls for such action themselves?  As we all know, the Security Council did act, authorizing a NATO attack upon Libya which began on March 19, 2011.  The ordering of such an attack was a possible and indeed likely action which the Security Council would take, especially given that countries like the U.S. and France were aggressively pushing for such action at the time.  And, AI full well knew this, and its calls for Security Council action worked in tandem with the efforts of the U.S. and France to obtain authorization for such an intervention.

In other words, AI, based at least in part on false reports, was pushing for Security Council action which it knew could, and most likely would, result in the authorization of force against Libya.  And indeed, AI’s other call for possible referral of sitting Libyan officials to the International Criminal Court was tantamount to a call for armed intervention, including regime change, because only such intervention could bring about the hauling of sitting government officials to The Hague.   AI’s current professions of neutrality on the issue of intervention notwithstanding, it can truly be stated that AI supported the intervention that took place in March of 2011 as an objective matter.

And sadly, this objective support was based in part on false reports of foreign, black mercenaries being brought into Libya.   These false reports of mercenaries, in addition to feeding the calls for intervention, had another terrible effect – they helped lead to the massive reprisals against black Libyans and foreign guest workers during the conflict in Libya and continuing after the time that Gaddafi was toppled.   The most notable of such reprisals was the utter destruction of the town of Tawarga, a town largely populated by black Libyans, by anti-Gaddafi rebels.  To its great discredit, AI, in its rush to push for Security Council intervention, spread the very false reports which fueled such acts of vengeance.

And, what about AI’s response to crimes committed by NATO’s intervention in and bombing of Libya?  AI, in its response to my article, cites to its criticism of NATO as evidence of its even-handedness in responding to the conduct of all sides of the Libyan conflict.  Specifically, AI cites to the following criticism it made as such evidence:
Although NATO appears to have made significant efforts to minimize the risk of causing civilian casualties, scores of Libyan civilians were killed and many more injured. Amnesty International is concerned that no information has been made available to the families of civilians killed and those injured in NATO strikes about any investigations which may have been carried out into the incidents which resulted in death and injury.
Of course, this mere criticism demonstrates AI’s utter lack of even-handedness.   First of all, in order to please its NATO patron, AI obviously felt compelled to lead its criticism with a compliment – patting NATO on the back for allegedly trying to “minimize the risk of causing civilian casualties,” as if aerial bombardment of major cities can ever constitute the minimization of such risks.
Then, AI complains that “no information has been made available” to the families of civilians killed or injured “about any investigations which may have been carried out into the incidents which resulted in death and injury.”   What “investigations” is AI referring to here?  Clearly, AI is complaining that NATO, left to police itself, has not shared the results of its own investigations into its own crimes.

The truth is that AI, which called for Security Council and possible ICC action against Libya as NATO was sharpening its knives to invade, has not called for a body outside NATO (e.g., the ICC) to investigate and possibly prosecute NATO officials for their crimes.  What is good for the goose then, is not good for the gander in AI’s view.  Of course, the ICC does not exist to prosecute those from the paler, Western countries.   No, the ICC (which the U.S. is not even a signatory to and is therefore exempt from) is, in practice, for the darker races of the poorer countries; for those from Africa, Asia, and from time to time, the lesser Slavic nations.  And, therein lies the problem inherent in the entire international human rights system of which AI is an integral part.

As we learn from Diana Johnstone in a CounterPunch article entitled, “How Amnesty International Became the Servant of U.S. Warmongering Foreign Policy,”  AI’s journey to becoming an appendage of the U.S. and NATO recently became complete with its appointment of Suzanne Nossel as the new Director of Amnesty International USA.  Diana Johnstone explains that Suzanne Nossel openly advocated, and indeed coined the term, “soft power” projection by the U.S. when she served in her last job as Assistant Secretary for International Organizations at none other than the U.S. State Department.  And, as Jean Bricmont notes in Humanitarian Intervention, and as Ms. Nossel herself and AI fully understand, “soft power” only works because it has the very real threat of “hard power” (including economic sanctions and military intervention) behind it.  AI has sadly forgotten that the wielding of such power by the rich countries to bully the weak is forbidden by the UN Charter which prohibits both the actual use and threat of force.   It is those prohibitions which must be enforced first and foremost to truly protect human rights.

What’s more, as Diana Johnstone further explained in her CounterPunch article, Suzanne Nossel, just before being hired by AI, played a direct role while at the U.S. State Department in ginning up the pretexts for the NATO intervention in Libya.   Ms. Johnstone explains that,  “As Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations, Ms. Nossel played a role in drafting the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution on Libya. That resolution, based on exaggeratedly alarmist reports, served to justify the UN resolution which led to the NATO bombing campaign that overthrew the Gaddafi regime. “  In other words, Ms. Nossel’s role in pushing the NATO intervention was similar to that of AI’s at the time, with both pushing exaggerated, and indeed false, claims to justify stepped up action against Libya.

AI’s current attempts to distance itself from the very NATO intervention which AI and Ms. Nossel worked together to help bring about simply do not ring true.  I would submit that it is time for AI to do some real soul-searching on the issue of whether it wants to serve the interests of human rights or to serve the interests of NATO and Western military intervention, for it truly cannot serve both masters.

Daniel Kovalik is a labor and human rights lawyer living in Pittsburgh.  He currently teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

International Solidarity Scores a Big Victory

Sudanese authorities succumb to pressures and forced to release hundreds of detainees,

International Solidarity Scores a big victory,

The struggle to release all political detainees continue,

Dear Comrades,

The struggle of our people, coupled with international solidarity, as well as the steadfastness of the detainees, has forced the Sudanese authorities to release hundreds of detainees. However, there are still hundreds languishing in the detention centres, especially young people. The struggle for the release of detainees must continue till all of them are freed.

It is with great satisfaction that we inform all fraternal parties that the leaders of our party, Alkinain, S. Yousif and others were among those released. We hail this victory as a victory for our people and international solidarity.

On this important turning point, the Sudanese Communist Party, and the entire democratic movement, pledge to continue the struggle till the final victory. We shall continue on the path enriched by the blood of the hundreds of martyrs who willingly gave their lives to the noble cause of national and social liberation of our people.

Our Party, its membership and leadership, will continue the struggle, in accordance with the guide lines laid down by the meetings of the Central Committee to mobilise the people, to help establish the best possible alliance to overthrow the regime and establish the democratic alternative.


Bureau of International Relations

Sudanese Communist Party

Friday, October 11, 2013

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Youth and the crisis in Ireland

Taken from September Socialist Voice

Irish youth is a section of the Irish people often forgotten about in relation to the class war. In discussions about the vicious attacks on the working class unleashed by capitalism, the questions of education and youth unemployment are rarely mentioned.

     The attacks on working-class youth are designed to break down and shape the next generation into the mould allotted to it by capitalism. Their aim is to leave a pliable resource: a people beaten and without hope except for the few crumbs and occasional charity.

     For most young people, the first taste of inequality begins with education. At first it’s the small things: the quality of a pencil case, the cut of a school uniform . . . and then a sharper learning curve to the realisation that inequality is more rife and can be for life.

     Continued access to secondary education has become more difficult. Before free second-level education, the old county council scholarships afforded access to secondary school for those few who were successful in the scholarship exam. Affording access was one thing, but the cost of keeping a youngster at school was another. It was little wonder that a high proportion of scholarships went to the children of farmers and shopkeepers.

     With the advent of Donogh O’Malley’s free secondary education, access became easier, but old problems remained. The aspirant bourgeoisie continued to flourish at private and boarding schools, such as Rockwell, Blackrock, Clongowes Wood, Belvedere, and Gonzaga. The granting of a few charitable bursaries to bright children is designed to provide a façade of benevolence; it also ignores the fact that these schools are heavily subsidised by the state, to the detriment of its school system. It continues to this day.

     Private colleges churn out grinds for Leaving Cert and university students whose parents have the dosh. As one contributor to a recent blog wrote, “there is no middle-class child so stupid that sufficient funds will not get them through a business or media studies degree.”

     The inequality does not extend only to access and achievement. One of the virtues most valued lies in the field of contacts, especially for the future. To hear Clongowes old boys reminiscence about old chums is like stepping into the pages of a bad Whig or Tory novel of the nineteenth century. Even one-time aspiring socialists have been known to wipe a tear away from their half-pints as they relive their glory days behind the wicket.

     But working-class youth have no such contacts. Indeed many come from families that already experience hardship, and their children’s plight adds complexity and despair to such a state of affairs. Having had their quota of education, the young person then has to find work. And work for young people is difficult to find.

     On the jobs front, Ireland continues to have the second-worst long-term unemployment record in the European Union. New figures from the EU statistics agency, Eurostat, show that the rate of long-term unemployment in Ireland in 2012 was 62 per cent, compared with the EU average of 45 per cent. Only Slovakia, with a figure of 67 per cent, is worse.

     Alicia O’Rourke of the EU said that youth unemployment in Ireland continues to be a problem. “The unemployment rates in the EU 27 average at 44.6%, that’s for the year 2012. In Ireland the figure is 61.7%. Then we look at the people involved in this unemployment, we see that across the EU 27, the average of 15 to 24 year olds is 22.9%, whereas in Ireland it is 30.4%.”
     In a study published in 2011, Youth Unemployment in Ireland: The Forgotten Generation,
  • all respondents agreed that the prospect of securing rewarding employment in Ireland is not very good;
  • 70 per cent agreed that it’s likely that they will emigrate in the next twelve months;
  • 90 per cent agreed that being unemployed has a negative effect “on my sense of well-being”;
  • only 32 per cent awarded a mid-point satisfaction to their meeting with the Department of Social Welfare;
  • half the respondents rated the quality of the information or support provided with a job facilitator at Social Welfare as unsatisfactory to poor.
     The number of people emigrating continued to rise last year, as 89,000 people left the 26 Counties—an increase of 2¼ per cent on the previous twelve months.
  • Almost one in four emigrants moved to Britain, while 17 per cent went to Australia.
  • Though the majority of emigrants were in the 15–24 and 25–44 age groups, the number of children under the age of 14 who moved abroad increased significantly, from 4,900 to 6,800.
  • While the coalition crows about the unemployment total being down by 22,000 in the last year, little mention is made of the fact that the number of those who had emigrated was 89,000.
     And without decent education and skills, emigrant youth face a challenging time as they are forced to compete on the low-wage front.

     The future for working-class youth looks bleak. Granted there are no more collieries to mine or chimneys to be swept, but the reservoir of cheap labour is still needed—if only to keep those in work quiet and obedient.

     On the ground, working-class youth find little hope, only growing poverty, emigration, and the destruction of their communities by mass unemployment, drugs, and criminality. Instead of careers they face countless training courses, learning to search for jobs that don’t exist.

     “Internships” are of little use, as they amount to little more than unpaid labour or slaves for employers. While interns work for nothing they impoverish their parents, who have to subside their children in the hope that “something might come of it.” The interns, as they impoverish themselves, in turn put pressure on their fellow-workers, who fear the loss of their jobs and their replacement by the “slaves.” The result is a work force caught in the race to the bottom and wary of launching any challenge to capitalism and its structures.

     Capitalism is attempting to make permanent full-time work a thing of the past, to be replaced with a precarious, “flexible” work force, with the working week whatever the employers need it to be. And youth is used, along with other sections of labour, to further this process.

     Successive governments, in thrall to their imperialist masters, have nothing to offer by way of alternatives. It is Thatcher’s mantra of TINA (“There is no alternative”), now aped by Gilmore, Rabbitte, and Howlin.

     The CPI recognises that general youth unemployment, like the attack on universal education, is not a glitch in the system. Both are caused by capitalism, which subjects all aspects of life to the generating of profits for the rich.

     The ruling class uses the critical situation facing young people for an assault against the wages and benefits of older workers. Crucially, it is used to impoverish the population as a whole.

     The real solution to all this exploitation and destruction of hope lies in resistance by the mass of the Irish working class, under principled communist leadership. This takes power from the hands of opportunists and class collaborators and places it in the hands of the working class and its allies.

     Organise, educate, agitate!

CP Vietnam on Social Networks

Looking back at the last two years since the “Arab Spring” swept across the Middle East and North Africa provoking anti-government demonstrations, it can be seen that one of the main reasons was the huge impact social networks have had on political life inside and outside the “Arab Spring” countries. Being aware of the impact of social networks helps us work out appropriate management tools to protect political and social stability, especially with hostile forces hectically promoting “peaceful evolution” by more sophisticated means.

“Technology spreads political riots”

Beginning with a wave of anti-government protests in Tunisia launched by local people (in December 2010) after a 26-year-old man set himself on fire to oppose the police, the chaos quickly spread, igniting a series of political upheavals under the name “Arab Spring” in several countries of the Middle East and North Africa. Social networks emerged as a technology for spreading political dissents and causing the worse political upheaval in the region since World War II.

Though they began spontaneously without instructions from any organization or opposition party, these protests spread quickly with a domino effect because the protesters gathered in large crowds and used social networks as a tool to incite riots. These political riots overthrew the presidents of several countries including Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, forced many heads of state or government leaders to resign, and forced governments in some countries to make concessions to opposition parties.

Two years later, the “Arab Spring” seems to have cooled down, yet its repercussions are still being felt in several countries. The “Arab Spring”, on one hand, reflects the discontent many people are feeling, and on the other hand, shows what an unpredictable and pervasive effect social networks can have on demonstrations and political life. Sociologist O.Glassey, an expert in Information Technology at Lausanne University in Switzerland, has described the role social media played in these revolutions. Like resonance boxes, Facebook and Twitter amplify and echo people’s demands. These tools “ignite” demonstrations by appealing to people to go out into the streets.

In fact, social media have quickly connected opposition groups, and “secret” movements with secret leaders, helping them to hide and evade the authorities. Events in Tunisia showed that Facebook can become a powerful weapon when people use the internet as a source of unrestricted information. Similarly, the Egyptian government seemed incapable of preventing the public from accessing dissident viewpoints via social networks. In the Arab world, popular websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Google provided a political forum to people in 20 countries with the same language, the same religion, and similar cultural features. This broadened the pervasion of the “Arab Spring” movement causing initial passive reactions among the international community, who adjusted their attitudes with the developments of the situation.

Furthermore, social media have also become an effective means of communicating with and gaining support from the international public. Since the conflict in Libya took place, social media have become the most effective tool to communicate with the outside world, especially with the international media(1). Information on social media in Libya includes not only viewpoints, news updates, and links provided to Western media reports on the war, but also statements from outside intervening forces namely the US and the West. Initially, the US and other Western powers only called on the warring parties to refrain from violence and seek a peaceful resolution, but later, they publicly voiced their support for the demonstrators and called for a transfer of power. Social networks immediately posted news and commentary, which supported and motivated protesters throughout the region.

Particularly, social media have helped to provide instant intelligence from the battlefield, a development with huge implications for current and future conflicts. Happenings on the Libyan battlefield in 2011 showed that social media had made it easier than ever for the public to follow military actions online. During the first days of the uprising in Libya, Twitter, Youtube, Facebook and blogs of the opposition groups in the country and overseas became the main source of information. Photos showing developments in Libya were first posted on social networks, even before foreign correspondents could get to the scene. Internet and mobile data services and SMS messages were important in the collapse of the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt.

The current Tunisian Prime Minister said social networks ignited the political firestorms in his country. Inspired by the “Arab Spring”, former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton announced that a social revolution era has come to the world.

Who manipulates social media?

Information technology became popular in developed countries before penetrating developing countries. Nowadays, thanks to globalization and booming internet, social media have become increasingly popular. With rich and poor alike, social media are widely popular, even developing countries have seen higher rate of social media’s popularization(2). Social media have gained a strong hold in daily life because they meet three basic human needs: communication, information and community. As social networks have grown in popularity and IT advances have made government’s control over these websites more difficult.

It is more notable that these websites all originate from the US, one of the countries with the fastest IT development in the world. US government agencies never miss a chance to manipulate these web pages. The US has developed a complicated network comprising of several organizations and agencies to promote US concepts of “democracy” and “human rights”, provide funding and support for several non-government organizations in different regions that operate under the name “non-profit” organizations.

These organizations and agencies have become an important part of US efforts to propagandize “US style democratic values” around the world, especially in North Africa and the Middle East. These agencies have provided financing, training, support and consultancy to leaders and separatist movements in countries that are in the “lens” of the US and the West so that they can provoke social instability to overthrow local governments through nonviolent struggles.

These agencies use the so-called “alliance of youth movements” under the guise of non-profit organizations, which have their own websites and very clear tasks- identifying online active elements in the regions of concerns; helping these elements to link together by experts and stakeholders in civil society, providing them with support, training and consultancy, and establishing a forum to create initial contacts and develop the relationships over time.

In addition, to help separatists evade local censorship of their countries of residence, the US directly or indirectly provides funding for some companies that specialize in the production of software dedicated to this function. A typical software product of this type is the TOR software, which is developed by a company based in the State of Massachusetts, the US, and is posted on the internet for the separatists to use it free of charge. It allows internet users to express their political opinions on issues without being detected by the authorities. The US has also cooperated with Google to provide financing for larger-scale projects, such as the Commotion project to set up a wireless network with high connection speed, operating "100% independently”.

The US has established normal diplomatic relationships, good relationships and "ally" relationships with quite a few countries in the world. However, the U.S. still provides spiritual support, even financial support for individuals, who constitute opposition forces that are "pro-American" in these countries, aiming to build a "civil society" in the Western democratic model, which, basically, is "peaceful evolution".

Some thoughts

What happened in the "Arab Spring" not only led to a change of government in several countries in the Middle East and North Africa, but also revealed a role that cannot be underestimated that social networks play in international relations, in "peaceful evolution" activities of hostile forces and in political riots, and armed conflicts now and in the future.

Thus, it is essential to raise more awareness of the impact of websites, media and modern civil information technology on information diffusion in the context of ongoing conflicts or potential conflicts. It is very important and necessary to take resolute measures to closely manage social media, neutralize plots of hostile forces who try to take advantage of this medium as a tool to incite, and provoke conflicts, political unrest or violence to overthrow governments with foreign military intervention.

Each country needs to map out its own strategies for protecting confidentiality of sensitive activities and at the same time, work out measures to strictly manage these websites and communication media. The easier access is to information on publicly available sources and the greater effect this has, the more difficult protection of information becomes.

With a foreign policy of multi-lateralization and diversification of international relations, Vietnam advocates the establishment of good relations with all countries to create an environment of peace and stability to boost socio-economic development, strengthen national defense and security, and expand external relations. But, Vietnamese people must remain vigilant of “peaceful evolution" efforts by hostile forces.

One of the ways that the hostile forces implement the "peaceful evolution" conspiracy in Vietnam is to establish and take advantage of social networks, develop convenient services to attract people, especially the young, and then turn social networks into a channel to collect information about Vietnam. A number of elements, who are not friendly to Vietnam, will take advantage of social networks to spread false information and distortions about Vietnam, damage the prestige of the regime and negatively impact the country’s socio-economic development. With these activities, the hostile forces will promote anti-government ideology among netizens, rally forces and establish opposition organizations to lead protests and provoke riots and insurrection against local administrations in certain localities and then take it as a reason for armed intervention to overthrow the political regime.

It is increasingly evident that hostile forces are operating under the guise of promoting internet freedom, even pressing us to respect so-called "internet freedom". The hostile forces include Vietnam in the list of “State enemies of the internet” and criticize Vietnam’s regulations on strengthening the management and operation of the internet (which require users to publicize their personal information and foreign service providers to share customer information with managers).

In fact, according to the Vietnam Internet Association’s Overview of 15 years of internet development in Vietnam, from November 19, 1997 to December 2012, Vietnam ranked 18 out of 20 countries with the world’s largest number of internet users, ranked 8th in Asia and 3rd in Southeast Asia. The number of internet users in Vietnam totaled more than 31 million, 35.49% of the population. Vietnam has made remarkable progress in infrastructure and has become the country with the best internet infrastructure in the region.

Currently, broadband internet services are available throughout the country with 99.85% of communes in urban areas and 84.46% of communes in rural areas accessing the internet. The number of households connected to the internet reached 8.2% out of the 12.6% who have computers. Internet access via desktop was 84%, laptops was 38% and mobile devices was 27%.

According to the latest survey of WeAreSocial, an organization headquartered in the UK that conducts independent research on global social media, the rate of internet users in Vietnam is 33% higher than the world average. In 2012 alone, Vietnam added 1.59 million new users. Social networks, digital devices and mobile phones in Vietnam are growing at an incredible pace, with the rate of internet users up 5% since the survey of WeAreSocial was released in late 2011.

This drastic internet development proves the complete freedom of internet in Vietnam. Like other countries in the world, Vietnam needs regulations and laws to regulate social activities, including the use of the internet in order to ensure social stability and prevent attempts to provoke violations of law, spread hatred, and incite demonstrations, riots, protests and subversion and minimize negative impacts of the internet on the community. This is one of measures to combat the "peaceful evolution" efforts of hostile forces, and ensure Vietnam’s national defense and security.


* Colonel, Associate Professor, Doctor, Vice Director of the National Defense Strategy Institute of the Ministry of Defense.

(1) In Libya, the rate of mobile phone owners is 134% and in the US, it is 95%.

(2) The largest market of Facebook is currently the US, but Indonesia is second with 32 million users, followed by the UK. Turkey, the Philippines, Mexico and India – four developing countries – are among the top ten users of social media.

CP of Israel - For a Nuclear Free Middle East

A Call for an International Conference In Israel:
"For A Nuclear Weapons And Weapons Of Mass Destruction Free Zone In The Middle East"
December 5-6 . 2013
The question of nuclear policy and the need to discuss it openly has become a cardinal issue, also in Israel. Paradoxically, the focus of the government of Israel and its various apparatuses on the Iranian nuclear policy has raised the issue of nuclear policy in the Middle East as a whole, including that of Israel itself.

The international community has recognized that the nuclear issue, as well as the issue of weapons of mass destruction generally, is not an internal affair of any state but has implications that reach beyond national and geographic borders, hence requires international attention. From such insights, different international initiatives for abolishing nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction (and some tendencies within the UN) are derived, for example:

1 - The great progress in the issue of dismantling the arsenal of chemical weapons in Syria and the commitment to implement the Security Council resolution through cooperation with the Syrian government.
2 - The new moderate official Iranian discourse on Iran's nuclear policy, and the Iranian president Ruhani's commitment to cooperate with the international community to promote a nuclear free zone in the ME.

Those two developments have created favorable conditions for an effort to breach the wall of indifference erected by the Israeli establishment to block public discussion on the nuclear and WMD issue inside Israel.

There is a broad international support, including among the peoples of the Middle East and among the progressive forces inside Israel, for the immediate implementation of the UN general assembly resolution from May 2010. That resolution called on to hold an international conference in Helsinki under the auspices of the UN to promote the creation of a nuclear free zone in the Middle East, which is based on having all the countries of the region – including Israel – joining the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the treaty on the banning of chemical weapons.

Israel was the only party in the ME that decided to boycott the Helsinki conference. Consequently, the conference was cancelled. In an alternative international conference, which was organized by the peace organizations in Finland last December, and attended by the Finnish foreign minister, the representative of the Haifa based Emil Touma Institute has concluded: "If the official Israel will not come to Helsinki, it remains the task of the peace and progressive forces, in Israel and abroad, to bring Helsinki to Israel." Hence, the idea of an international conference in Israel was born, aimed at strengthening the demand for a nuclear free zone in the Middle East, as a continuation of many years of activism towards this goal.

The coming together of peace and human rights organizations from abroad, and the widening support among peace and progress forces within Israel, could turn our conference into a landmark in the struggle for nuclear disarmament in the Middle East, as a real and viable alternative to the war plans, and to the calls for a disastrous war against Iran.

Believing that now is the time to step up the Israel-based campaign for WMD disarmament in the region, we have rallied together - a broad spectrum of activists and representatives from peace forces, human rights groups and civil society organizations.

Believing that now is the time to intensify the campaign in Israel on matters of Nuclear Weapons and WMD disarmament, and believing that the security of the citizens of Israel and the peoples of the region will not be met by the stockpiling of nuclear bombs and WMDs, and not by disastrous wars - but rather by disarmament, and just peace,  we have announced the formation of a preparatory committee for an International Conference in Israel proper (Haifa) with the title "For a Middle East Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction". Our decision is to hold the conference in Haifa, at December 5-6, 2013.

We call on all activists, organizations and personalities in Israel, who are supportive of this struggle, to join the preparatory committee and to help build the conference. We call on peace and human rights organizations, on the anti-nuclear movement and to all those who oppose WMDs in the world, to support , and  to participate in the conference, out of grave concern for the security and the future of all the peoples of the region, including the people in Israel.

For the first time we succeeded to have together such a wide range of peace activists, civil society organizations, political groups, anti nuclear and WMD activists, and well known public figures from the Israeli politics and the Israeli academy who expressed their willingness to participate in the preparatory committee of this international conference and in the conference itself.

The Preparatory Committee for the International Conference in Israel
"For A Nuclear Weapons And Weapons Of Mass Destruction Free Zone  In The Middle East"

Sunday, October 6, 2013

EU Democracy?

Cyprus` experience and European decisions

Article by Andros Kyprianou, General Secretary of the C.C. of AKEL
In Cyprus, for various reasons there is a lack of information on the decisions taken in the European Union. Even when this information is presented, it is often inadequate. More often than not, the analysis is biased. The official reading of EU decisions is usually characterised by wishful thinking and based on mere declarations. To the people these decisions do not correspond to their own reality. But behind these declarations lies the essence, which now implemented in practice, affects everyone.

Besides, there are two sides to these decisions. On the one hand, one truth stating the following: Our people have seen from their own experience how these decisions are taken when the haircut on deposits was called a "solidarity fee". It was at that time when the political attacks against workers, small and middle strata and young people were labelled as the "policy of consolidating the economy". Since the current government does not understand, or rather pretends it doesn't understand that this is the reality, given that it didn't react to or oppose this policy. Consequently, it assumes the full responsibility for the major decisions taken to the detriment of the Cypriot people.

The second truth states that no serious policy decision of the European Union is taken without a clash; a conflict of interests, between states and ruling classes depending on their power, mainly economic power. This power depends on the level of development of the productive forces of each country and other factors.
Germany imposes its position, not because it is a "bad" country - on the contrary. The economic system itself and political decisions, including the new Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (2009), create the preconditions for the domination of the strong over the weak. The role of small states, in general the role of the weak in this equation, either of the workers or the poor, is very limited.

The terms adopted with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union favour the powerful and the mighty. The Treaty was not approved by a referendum, or through popular consultation. This is not by chance. In the only country where a referendum was held, namely Ireland, the "No" vote of the people was turned into a yes vote, when a second referendum was imposed on the country and people. Neither was the French "No" vote heeded and respected. On the contrary, it served as the pretext to eliminate the possibility of holding a referendum in every state. The so-called unbridled competitiveness included in the Treaty, namely exploitation at its full development under capitalism, is the framework we are living today, four years after its adoption and in the midst of the severe economic crisis.

The concentration of powers in the directorate of Brussels which in turn serves the interests of the powerful is another result of the Treaty. The imposition of the neoliberal orthodoxy declaring that states must enforce surplus budgets, implement cuts in social policies and an aggressive policy on wages and rights is the consequence of handing this power over to the ruling circles of Brussels. AKEL voted against the Treaty and was subsequently criticized for its position. Today, a more calm and prudent reflection can demonstrate what its implementation has led to.

However, when the people realize their own strength and power, then the real prospect for fundamental changes will exist. Such awareness seems to be growing in many EU countries. Today, 67% of Europeans, according to the latest barometer conducted in the EU, believe that their voice is not being heard by the EU. Cypriots share the same view, as reflected in the record figure of 89% of the population. 72% of Europeans believe that the situation in the EU is negative, whilst 98% of Cypriots consider the situation in Cyprus as negative.

Recognizing the real situation offers the basis for the waging of political and social struggle which can lead to change, regardless of whether the ruling forces in the European Union and the government do not even want to hear about this. For them, everything will continue as planned with some "collateral damage"... For the people though?

Cypriot Independence Day

Statement of the C.C. of AKEL, 30th September 2013, Nicosia
The Cypriot people honour the 1st October, the Independence Day of the Republic of Cyprus. Many years of struggles full of sacrifices by our people led to the foundation of the independent Republic of Cyprus, an independence which although shackled by the London-Zurich Agreements, was a great gain for Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots which we as a people should have utilised for our country's progress and prosperity. Unfortunately foreign conspiracies and interventions, nationalism-chauvinism and the traitorous subversive activity of the extreme-right brought new sufferings and adventures. The climax of these foreign conspiracies and of the betrayal committed was the coup d'état executed by the junta of Greece and the EOKA B organization, followed by the Turkish invasion and occupation which is still continuing.

In the 53 years of an independent existence and despite the adversities and tragic adventures, Cyprus has achieved progress in all areas of the economy, growth, the welfare state and culture; progress due primarily our people's hard work and struggles. The mark of the Left is impossible to erase from all these struggles and gains of the Cypriot people, of the working people in particular.

Since 1974, we are fighting to end the given situation of the occupation, liberate and reunify our country and people and to build a happy and safe future for all Cypriots, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians and Latins. For AKEL, the goal remains unwavering. We are struggling for a solution within the framework of the United Nations resolutions and the High-Level Agreement that will be in line and comply with International and European Law. We are seeking a bi-zonal bi-communal federal solution with political equality, as defined in the UN resolutions; for a solution providing for a united single state with a single sovereignty, a single international personality and a single citizenship; for a solution that will restore and safeguard the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots. At the same time we are struggling to achieve the full verification of the fate of our missing persons.

This year's Independence Day finds us on the verge of a new effort to solve the Cyprus problem. A necessary precondition to arrive at a successful end result is for Turkey to change its policy. All those within the international community proclaiming that the time has come for a solution of the Cyprus problem must focus their attention on Turkey changing its policy. AKEL as always behaving responsibly, will support the new effort provided that it will move forward based of the principles of the solution of the Cyprus problem that have been collectively set out long ago. We reiterate that the upcoming talks will have more chances to succeed if they make use of what had been agreed at the Christofias - Talat talks. We do not of course hide our concern over some positions upheld by President Anastasiades which raise many questions. We expect to be fully informed and will judge the new effort from the course it will take and its results .

Independence Day finds Cyprus yet another year in the midst of the unprecedented crisis of capitalism. The criminal mistakes of banking capital and of the supervisory authority exacerbated to the maximum extent the crisis and its impact on Cyprus. The Eurogroup - Anastasiades decisions did not rescue the Cyprus economy. Quite the opposite, they led Cyprus to the brink of catastrophe. The recession is deepening and unemployment is rising at a fast pace, SMBs are being decimated, people are falling into poverty day by day, working people's social gains and of the people in general are being abolished and the welfare state is being dismantled. The Anastasiades government's and coalition parties responsibilities are enormous given that they insist there is no alternative other than the Memorandum.

AKEL once again stresses that there is no salvation within the Memorandum. An exit strategy from the Memorandum is imperative. Unfortunately, the government and the coalition parties do not have the political will to undertake such a responsibility because among other things they share the same philosophy as the Troika which wants to level everything in the name of neo-liberalism.

AKEL will continue to struggle with all its strength to defend the gains of our people, especially of working people and for an exit from the crisis with the least possible cost for the popular strata. It will continue to fight against privatizations, the abolition of the welfare state and all those policies that lead to impoverishment. It will continue to support social solidarity and the most vulnerable groups of the population. AKEL will continue to forge political and social alliances, aiming to formulate conditions to bring about a different socio-economic path.

The 1st October belongs to the people of Cyprus as a whole. AKEL on the occasion of Cyprus Independence Day addresses a patriotic greeting to all Cypriots, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Maronites , Armenians and Latins. It calls on all the Cypriot people to wage a common struggle for the salvation of our common country so that Cyprus can enjoy the benefits of peace, security and progress.